Eyeworld Supplements

2024 50 Years of ASCRS Supplement

This is a supplement to EyeWorld Magazine.

Issue link: https://supplements.eyeworld.org/i/1516004

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Page 55 of 67

CREATING A TRULY COMPREHENSIVE SUBSPECIALTY SOCIETY 56 | SUPPLEMENT TO EYEWORLD Facing the unprecedented Meeting members' needs in a pandemic In 2020—the year eyecare professionals were looking forward to, 20/20—the COVID-19 pandemic shut ophthalmolog y down in an unprecedented way. e im- pact to surgeons, their patients, and ASCRS was significant. During the early weeks, oph- thalmic surgery and consultations, outside of emergencies, in the U.S. were cancelled. ASCRS members were forced to come up with cre- ative ways to still be able to take care of patients, such as reasonable telemedicine options. Aer surgery resumed, surgeons faced a huge backlog of patients. ASCRS was not immune to the economic and logistical com- plications that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic. e Society canceled the 2020 Annual Meet- ing, which was originally scheduled for May in Boston, Massachusetts. Within a few weeks, it pivoted and hosted one of the first virtual med- ical meetings of the pandemic. In the months following, it developed an array of online learning materials to support and educate its members not only on normal ophthalmic topics but on how they could adjust during "pandemic times." "We rapidly pivoted as an entire society to the virtual world. It was disorienting for all of us. Dr. Terry Kim was incoming president and went from practicing to deliver his incoming speech in front of a thousand people to de- livering his remarks looking at a computer screen in his kitchen. It was just bewildering," Mr. Speares said. "I think that what we went through strengthened my love for the Society and my admiration of our practices," Mr. Speares said. "To be a medical practice that's shut down for weeks—I just can't imagine when you've got patients who are in need who can't see you or are afraid to see you. "[Patients] were not going to the drugstore and get- ting their prescriptions refilled, and with asymptomatic disease like glaucoma, people did not understand that they were damaging their vision by staying home. I think one of the lessons I took from the pandemic was my great appreciation for the totality of the practice, how the practices weathered incredibly difficult times, and how they kept serving their patients. It shows you that ophthalmologists, administrators, and technicians really do this because they love it." While virtual learning was a ben- efit during the pandemic, ASCRS came back strong with one of the first in-person medical meetings in 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. "We had a contract with San Francis- co for the 2021 meeting, and as of January 3, they were still telling us April was a 'go.' We had to send a legal document forcing them to acknowledge it wasn't going to hap- pen," Mr. Speares said. "Not having a meeting, however, would have been a death blow, so we set out searching for a city and venue. "A month later we had a con- tract to go to Las Vegas in late July. Hardly ideal, but we at least had something. Florida and Texas were allowing meetings, but because they were the only states doing so, you had the entire meeting world beat- ing a path down there and every city was booked. At the time I signed the contract, Vegas was still mandating maximum meetings of 50 people, but EyeWorld was due to go to press shortly aer the pandemic shut down elective sur- gery, such as many ophthalmic procedures. e magazine pivoted, changing its cover and adding content to reflect the begin- ning of an unprecedented time. Source: EyeWorld Mr. Speares attends the virtual ASCRS Annual Meeting in 2020. ASCRS was forced to cancel its meeting scheduled for May 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts, but the Society held a virtual meeting over its original dates. Source: Steve Speares

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